Tag Archives: Indian curry

Coconut Dal (spicy lentils)

20 Aug

A simple soupy lentil dal flavoured with coconut milk, chilli, garlic and curry leaves. I love all kinds of dal or dhal and this one is a particular favourite with a soft rounded flavour sweet with coconut and warming subtle spices. Serve with rice or Indian breads such as chapati, some pickles and a dry meat or vegetable curry.

  • 1 cup split hulled orange lentils
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 green chilli
  • 4 cups water

Wash the lentils and cook in a roomy pan with the turmeric chilli and water. When the lentils are soft, about 30-40 mins, add coconut milk and season to taste.

final fry

  • 1 tbsp veg oil
  • Half an onion
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 3 small hot dred red chillis or sliced large ones
  • 2-3 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 12 curry leaves

In a small frying pan heat some vegetable oil or ghee and throw in the onion when it begins to colour add the garlic and when it starts to colour finally throw in the dry chillis and curry leaves fry for a minute then pour the hot oil and spices into the lentils, stir quickly, cover and let the flavours infuse before serving. Stir in a handful of fresh coriander leaf and serve scattered with a little extra fresh coriander leaf or shavings of fresh coconut.


Chicken & Cherry Tomato Balti

20 Aug

This is a delicious quick chicken curry; sweet, sour and aromatic full of flavour but not too hot. Chicken breast is marinated in a mixture of sour tamarind, sweet tomato, sesame seeds and coconut then cooked quickly in a karhi or hot wok with some wonderful aromatic Indian spices and fresh cherry tomatoes. Serve with rice for a simple family meal or with breads, raita and a potato or vegetable side dish for a great dinner party.

  • 1 tbsp tamarind concentrate
  • 4 tbsp tomato passata or 4- 6  tomatoes crushed and pushed through a sieve
  • 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp chilli powder or to taste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp ginger paste or grated ginger
  • 2 tsp garlic paste or crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin, roasted and ground
  • 1.5 tsp coriander, ground
  • 1 lb chicken, thigh or breast meat
  • 5 tbsp veg oil
  • 25 curry leaves
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds
  • 2-3 cardamom pods
  • 3 large dried chillis
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seed
  • 10-12 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp fresh coriander
  • 2 fresh green chillis, sliced

Put the tomato passata and tamarind in a bowl along with the chilli powder, salt, sugar, ginger, garlic, coconut, sesame seeds, cumin and coriander. Stir well then add the chicken cut into bit size pieces stir well to coat then set aside. (at this point you could leave the dish in the fridge until it is time to eat so it is a great one to prepare in advance for dinner with friends so that you can concentrate on them and not cooking). Heat oil in a wide pan or wok and when hot add the curry leaves, nigella seed, dried chillies, and cardamom a few seconds later add the fenugreek seeds and fry until aroma rises. Lower heat and gently add the chicken along with the sauce, stir well and simmer gently for 12-15 mins. Add the fresh tomatoes and green chillies cook for 3 mins or until the cherry tomatoes begin to burst then add the coriander stir and serve.

Source  This recipe originally came from a book called  The Definitive Cook’s Collection of Indian Recipes by Shehzad Husain and Rafi Fernandez  that my um bought for Rachel. I liked the idea of up front prep then fast cooking method so have adapted it over the years. NB original recipe called for 4 tbsp tomato ketchup but I could not bear to use it myself, so I use pasatta or pureed fresh tomatoes.

Cauliflower with Lentils

1 May

This is a delicious way of cooking cauliflower in a sauce of spiced lentils known as dal or dhal in Southern Asia. The combination is subtle, savory and wonderful. You can add nuts for protein to make this a complete meal or serve as a side for a meat dish or with any number of vegetable dishes for a vegetarian feast.

Make a batch of basic dhal

  • 1 cup red hulled split lentils
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 large green chillis
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seed (optional)

Wash the lentils then put into a roomy pan with the rest of the ingredients. Cook for 30minutes or until the lentils are soft.

  • Half a cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
  • 1tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp fennel, nigella or cumin seed
  • 1 black cardamom pod (optional)
  • 1-2 dried red chillis
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced (optional)
  • pinch asefetida (devil’s dung)
  • a small piece of ginger grated (optional)
  • 1 thinly sliced fresh green chilli (optional)

Cut the cauliflower into bite size florets. Remove the green chilli from the dal and add the cauliflower, cover and simmer slowly, meanwhile…

In a small pan or skillet heat the oil then throw in the first 5 spices, when they pop add the garlic and as soon as it starts to brown add the asefetida and pour straight into the lentils and cauliflower, stir and continue to cook until the cauliflower is just tender but still has a fresh tasting bite. Stir in a little more fresh green chilli and ginger, if using, and some fresh coriander leaf if you have any then serve.

Serve with rice or chapatis or a lamb biryani , a grilled meat dish such as masala roast chicken, or a hot meaty curry like Beef Roganjosh or with Bombay potatoes or any number of vegetable dishes such as green bean Coconut Fry  for a vegetarian feast.

Cooks Note Add spices according to your taste, you could add nigella, fennel or cumin seed or indeed all three, use green cardamom instead of black for a more floral taste and use asefetida instead of ginger for a more earthy savory taste and vary the spicing and quantity of chilli depending on what the dish will be served with.

Mince and Potato Curry

6 May

This is my version of Keema Aloo a popular North Indian dish of minced meat cooked with spices and potatoes. It is really tasty, hearty stuff, easy to prepare and cheap, I love it. Delicious served simply with rice and a sweet or sour chutney or spinach-stuffed flatbreads. It also makes a lovely stuffing for pastry parcels, kachori or samosas.

  • 250g Minced meat ( lamb, goat or beef)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 fresh green chillies, deseeded and sliced to taste
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 hot dried chillies (my favourite for this dish is lemon drop)
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard seed
  • dried curry leaves (to taste)
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 250g-500g potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2-3 tomatoes skinned and crushed
  • salt to taste
  • lemon zest to taste

Fry the mince in a little oil until the meat starts to brown, tip into a bowl and set aside. Prepare the spices and set aside. Add a little more oil and fry the onion until it starts to colour then add the garlic, ginger and whole spices, chilli and curry leaves. Fry for a minute or two then add the potatoes, tomatoes, fresh chillis and salt and fry for a minute or two. Return the mince to the pan plus a little water, stir well and cover. Cook slowly until the potatoes are cooked 15–20 minutes. Add a little water during cooking if it starts to stick but it should end up as a fairly dry dish. Sprinkle with a little garam masala or grated lemon zest and stir in before serving.

Note as always be careful with the chillis. I use all kinds of chillies (I grow over 30 varieties) some are very hot, some mild, some fruity and some lemony acidic like these lemon drop chillies. Use whatever chillies you have available but make sure you know how hot they are before adding. I would recommend adding a little grated lemon peel at the end of cooking if you are not using lemon drop chillies to get that citrus high note.

Recipe Source I’ve been making variations of this since my student days in Glasgow, it is such a staple I have no idea if there even was an original recipe.

Pork Curry (Vindaloo)

11 Nov

This is one of my favourite meat curries, pungent with mustard oil, hot with chillies and sour with tamarind and vinegar and finally a hint of sweet nutty coconut. It is a remarkably quick and easy to make and really worth trying.  Serve with rice, a yogurt dish and a light vegetable dish or dal.

  • 6 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp vindaloo masala powder see Indian Spice Mix Recipes
  • 2-3 tsp vinegar
  • 450g pork, boned and cubed
  • 2 or more green chillis, thinly sliced
  • 150ml water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-2 tsp tamarind concentrate (depending on concentrate)
  • 2 tbsp freshly grated coconut or desiccated

Heat the mustard oil until it starts to smoke then throw in the onion and garlic fry until turning a pale golden colour then add the vindaloo masala powder. Fry and sprinkle with the vinegar. Add the pork and stir well to coat in spices and seal. Add the water and simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes. Stir in the salt, tamarind and half the coconut, cook for another 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated then serve on a bed of rice sprinkled with the rest of the coconut or fresh coriander leaves.
Source This recipe is one of my old favourites which I think originally came from an Indian cookery book from the late 70’s. I no longer have the original recipe book so I don’t know how far I have veered from the original but this is one quick and tasty curry.

Cook’s Tip I make up a blend of the Vindaloo spice mixture ready ground in an airtight jar which stays fresh for up to 3 months making this even quicker and easier to prepare. Freeze freshly grated coconut  in small usable batches.

Chicken Curry (red)

13 Oct

There must be as many chicken curries as there are kitchens and this is mine, it is red from paprika, tomatoes and pureed red peppers. Simple robust and a great winter dish. I make it in a slow cooker so that it is ready at the end of the day but you could also cook it in an oven or the stove top in a heavy pan in less time.

  • 1 free range chicken
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 stick cinammon
  • 2 large onions
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4cm piece of ginger
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 2 hot green chillis
  • 3 dried hot chillis
  • 2 tbsp red pepper paste
  • water

1/4 tsp black pepper corns
1 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp fenugreek seed (optional)
1 tsp fennel seed
1 tsp coriander seed
4 cloves
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
Wash the chicken and butcher into small portions. Dust the chicken with 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp turmeric and set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. To make the masala grind the whole spices to a powder then add the paprika and turmeric. Grate or blitz in a blender the ginger, garlic and onion, the paste will give the curry a thick sauce, if you don’t want a thick sauce just chop the onions, ginger and garlic. Peel and chop the tomatoes. De-seed and chop the fresh chillis.
In a large wide pan heat a little vegetable oil and fry the chicken pieces, turning until they are browned on all sides, then remove and lay in a large cooking pot (a heavy bottomed stove top, a slow cooker or covered oven dish; something that can cook the curry slowly for several hours). Into the same pan the chicken came out of put the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick, then add the onion paste and fry until golden and the raw smell has cooked out. Add the masala powder and fry for two or three minutes add the tomatoes and chillis, both fresh & dried and add a little water. Stir to mix well then tip the whole lot over the chicken pieces. Stir, cover and cook for 4-6 hours in a slow cooker or 1-2 hours on the stove or in the oven. Serve sprinkled with coriander and along with rice or chapatis.

Variations I sometimes add a little anis powder, mace blades or grated nutmeg to the masala. This recipe makes a fine chicken curry without the tomatoes and peppers too but it won’t be red.

Cook’s Note Add enough water to cover the chicken if using stove top or oven methods. If using a slow cooker you only need to use a little water as the slow cooker retains most of the liquid. In the winter months I use frozen or bottled tomatoes. If you don’t have red pepper paste just add a fresh sweet red pepper or jar of preserved red peppers when making the onion paste.

Dhal (Masoor Tadka)

15 Mar

This is my version of the classic Indian dish of red lentils seasoned with fried garlic and spices. It is simple, savory and delicious and one of my very favourite Indian foods. I love it with freshly cooked chapatis and some chutney or as a side to almost any other Indian dish. Masoor is the Indian name for the small reddish orange split lentils most commonly found in European markets. Tadka or Tarka means tempered or fried and it is the addition of hot fried spices that makes this dish so special. The lentils are cooked simply with fresh green chillis and turmeric then the spices are fried in oil and stirred, while hot, into the dal to create a wonderful aromatic vegetarian dish.

  • 1 cup red hulled split lentils
  • 1 litre water
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 large green chillis

Final fry

  • 3-4 tbsp oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • 3 hot dry chillis
  • 10 curry leaves
  • pinch asafoetida

Wash the lentils and put into a roomy pan with the water, add the chillis that have been cored and sliced and the turmeric. Cover and cook for 30- 40 minutes until the lentils are soft, bash with a potato masher if you want a smooth dal and season with salt to taste. In a small frying pan heat some vegetable oil or ghee and throw in the garlic, when it begins to colour throw in the cumin, dry chillis and curry leaves fry for a minute then throw in the asafoetida and immediately pour the hot oil and spices into the lentils, stir quickly, cover and let the flavours infuse before serving. Serve scattered with some fresh coriander leaf.